Friday, September 3, 2021

Christian Community

All week, we've been looking at the world's criticism that Christians ought to be socialists - that this is what Jesus has called us to economically. And we've built our response around the basic idea that Jesus never called us to an economy; He called us to a community. This includes several uncomfortable truths, the most uncomfortable of which is that Jesus never once called us to eliminate poverty. 

So where does this leave us? 

It leaves us in the same place that so much of Christian truth leaves the Cross. It leaves us picking up the burdens of living in the flesh and carrying one another to a hill outside the city, outside the culture. It leaves us demonstrating, by the lives that we live, that the Christian call is a better way than even the finest wisdom of culture. 

Culture insists that socialism is the better way. It insists that socialism answers the call of Christ on our lives. It insists that if we're looking for a way of love and provision and equality, then socialism is the way to go, and it struggles - as most of us do - to swallow the truth that Christ actually spoke. (And, as we saw earlier this week, not always Christ, but sometimes Paul or Luke. Not that the world understands the difference.)

What we have to do, then, is to live our Christian call to community in such a way that we show the world what Christ truly has to offer. 

We have to live self-sacrificially and demonstrate that our generous, free giving of grace to one another is better - for us and for others - than the forced redistribution of resources. We to have to live with a humble posture toward one another that is always open to learning from another perspective. We have to live with eyes wide open, valuing one another and the diverse experiences we are all having here. We have to not only leave the edges of our fields unharvested, but recognize and honor the dignity of those who come to glean from them. 

We have to start shouting about the widow and her two mites and not let the world change the narrative to question how the widow only has two mites to begin with and how, then, the church must be failing her. We have to instead be prepared to testify to the thousands of small contributions made by the weakest and poorest among us...and declare humbly, yet boldly, how we simply could not live without them. That widow's two mites may not pay many bills, but the example she sets is far more valuable and cannot be included on any tally sheet. 

We have to honor the woman of ill-repute who brings the most expensive of all her treasures and breaks it open in front of God for us. And we have to resist the world's temptation to think that we owe this woman a bottle of new perfume (at the very least). Instead, we must confess how she convicts us, how she calls us to a greater faith of our own.

We must, at every turn, show our true engagement with one another in the kind of blessed and beautiful and yes, broken, community that God truly calls us to, a community that can never be achieved by simply moving numbers around on a balance sheet. This kind of community requires us to know one another's stories, to get involved in one another's struggles, to honestly assess our own wealth and giftedness, to be a people not just of love, but of grace. This community calls us to so much, and we get so much more out of it than we would any economy where the whole goal is that we are all, each one of us, "comfortable." 

We need to show the world what a little holy discomfort can do for us. What it can do for them. 

Does Jesus call His followers to socialism? No. He calls us to something much, much greater. 

He calls us to community.  

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